Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Days 17 - 19: family in Whangarei, another beach

With dawn I was up and prepping to be underway, conscious it would be a long one to walk in to Whangarei over reasonably challenging terrain- an estuary, a hill (Kauri Mountain), a beach walk (yay, my favourite) then a decent sized mountain called Bream Head before some bays into my Aunt's place in  Taurikura where I would rest up for a zero day.
The estuary walk went pretty well at first
With some interesting pools of molloscs  to play with
And that's when the birds attacked. It was like a Hitchcock movie there for a while, but then ( to mix movie metaphors), I brandished my magic sticks like Gandalf with Glamdring facing down the dark riders on their nazgul, and they fled the estuary with my triumphant war cry speeding them on. Ok, maybe not that last bit! 
Anyhow, I was faced with an estuary to cross, so using my sticks I sort of skated my way across the mud until I reached the promised crossing. I was to look for a white marker which would indicate the shallowest crossing point, only up to your knees, the trail notes suggested. Hm. From where I was standing, I could see three white sticks, all of which I assume marked the channel and therefore would be the deepest part of the estuary for safe boating navigation. After much internal debate, I decided to forge ahead, choosing a likely looking spot. Using my sticks in front to prod the ever-deepening waters, I tried to find a safe way across.... In no time I was up to my chest in cold water and anticipating a swim, when my feet found the other bank and I clambered out onto a mudflat. Lovely. I made my way carefully to farmland with my shoes filling with pungent ooze. Up into pastureland where I tried briefly to clean myself up.
I soon gave it up, and started for Kauri mountain. On the way I found a ditch with flowing water, and gratefully splashed my way along to remove the rich gunk I had accumulated. And up the hill I went, got slightly geographically embarrassed after having an argument with a Te Araroa trail marker, before hitting the trig station at the top!
...-and in the background you can see the Ocean Beach walk and Bream Head who was the next challenge. Excellent, bring it on!
It was a brief stroll really, before I was up the wee foothill and looking at a really nice piece of woodwork. Well done, mate!
After a wee chat with a couple of local women, it appeared I would up and over the other side in 3 hours or so... Which was sounding  pretty good as it was now 2 pm.
So off I went! And it was hard yakker, actually, taking me more than an hour to get to the ridge line, sometimes clambering up and over timber and rocks  dropped on the trail for construction work- for those following in later months, you should have a nicely made path with steps no less! Be grateful. At that moment, I wasn't because it was an obstacle course clambering over everything!
...this is what you should see on the way up As well as down the other side (parts were already completed)
I was halfway along the ridge and it was 4 pm. I decided I wouldn't make it to my Aunt's at the prescribed time, so I called. She was happy to hear I was safe, and after discussing when I might arrive (after dark), she worriedly told me to watch out for unsavoury characters  on Bream Head, going as far as to suggest I don't ask questions, just go on the attack! This had me thinking, so for the next half hour as I went through the bush I kept a wary eye out for 'unsavoury characters' while wondering what had happened to worry her so.
I soon found out. Round a corner near the last major rock formation, a shadowy figure was lurking in the bushes. I gripped my sticks and readied a frenzied attack along with an insanity plea, when the mysterious figure stepped forward- it was my Dad! 
We walked on together for a bit, treated to amazing views

Until we reached a picnic spot where Dad had left some champagne, bread, cheese and salami, cheers!
I was amazed he had lugged all this stuff up what is quite a challenging walk just to meet me. Good stuff!
We headed for my Aunt's place, trying to beat the onset of night. We reached the carpark around 6 pm, so Dad  headed for home to help with dinner while I walked around the bays to meet them once I had completed this part of the trail.
I finally finished walking that day around 7 pm, but not before finding an amusing letterbox and having a chat with a local about Te Araroa. Great to see more Kiwis are aware it exists!
Day 18: A zero day... My Aunt Kay kindly offered to drive me around Whangarei the next day to complete some
errands... We also took time to drop by and see my Grandma, Doreen, who is at a nearby rest home. I gave a presentation on my walk and the equipment I am using to the rest home residents, which was a lot of fun- they had some excellent questions, and I think more than half were still awake at the conclusion of my talk, so I count that as a win!
Aunt Kay was a great host, I really felt spoiled! Views of Bream Head from her house, and resident sheltie, Jack
Day 19: Mangawhai Beach and Waipu Cove. The next day (following An America's Cup postponement), Aunt Kay dropped me off at Marsden Point. We said our farewells, and I was off again. On a beach, again. Sigh. At least my feet were dry... Oh wait, river crossing. Wet, sandy, not in my happy place!
So I exited the beach on lunchtime somewhere near Ruakaka to find a cafe to dry out and maybe find a beer. Success!
While at the cafe I ended up doing a wee media interview with the Bream bay News, and by fluke ran into a bloke who I worked with in Solomon Islands!
Small world, huh. Good to see you Warren!
I also saw some unusual sights on the beach as I walked towards Waipu Cove
I also spotted some Royal Spoonbills, and was told by the writer for the Bream Bay News that the area was an important sanctuary for the New Zealand Fairy Tern, which she said was now the most endangered seabird in NZ. Good on you guys for your conservation work, I wish you much success.
Around 5 pm I got into Waipu Cove and set up for the night in an almost deserted camping ground at the end of the beach.
Lookin forward to goin over the headlands and seeing what is on the other side! g'night, y'all.


  1. I think you did brandish your sticks like Gandalf with Glamring when the Birds descended upon you, admit it. I definitely would have loved to see that!! :-)

  2. By the way, have you planned any possible stays in maraes?

    1. Hey Aragonesa! Probably on the Whanganui section- I believe one campsite is at a marae.